Vanessa Fluker, an attorney well-known for her determined advocacy on behalf of homeowners facing foreclosure, was recently fined $12,200 along with her client by Michigan Wayne County Judge Robert Colombo. The case in appeals court is Tuesday, June 5 at 11am at Michigan Court of Appeals 1st District, 3044 W Grand Blvd, room 14-300, Detroit MI 48201. Support Vanessa Fluker, Esquire fighting for human rights and decency in the judicial process.
In an unprecedented attack on the rights of homeowners facing foreclosure, on March 1, 2011, Michigan Circuit Court Judge Robert Columbo assessed $12,200 in sanctions against attorney Vanessa Fluker and her client for a “vexatious appeal” of an eviction stemming from a foreclosure by RBS Services (Royal Bank of Scotland). Please lend your support to Attorney Fluker in challenging this outrageous sanction award against a people’s attorney and her client in favor of a bank with a history of dubious loan practices, and in contributing funds to aid in the prosecution of an appeal of this decision.
Ms. Fluker is well-known as a tireless advocate for the rights of homeowners, working 84 hours a week with little pay representing seniors and other victims of predatory lending in their efforts to stay in their homes. Her legal work has led to significant legal victories. She won the first case in Michigan holding that MERS has no standing to foreclose. She has won cases asserting that the failure to evaluate loans for modifications under HAMP is a defense to a foreclosure. She has testified in front of the U.S. Congress exposing the “silent bailout” of the banks by the federal government through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that occurs with virtually every foreclosure.
In the present case, she had intervened on behalf of the client in a Wayne County Circuit Court case after the client had filed a pro se complaint challenging her foreclosure based on improper accounting. The case was dismissed by Judge Colombo.
However, at the time the case was dismissed, a community organization, the Center for Community Justice and Advocacy (CCJA) filed a federal Fair Housing Complaint against RBS. The community group asserted RBS discriminated against African Americans both in steering them to high interest loans, and in selling their homes at Sheriff sale for values that did not represent the current values of the homes, thus precluding their right of redemption under Michigan law. Ms. Fluker’s client was named by CCJA as an example of RBS Service’s discrimination in the federal lawsuit.
In the 36th District court eviction case following the circuit court dismissal, Ms. Fluker raised as an affirmative defense to the eviction the Fair Housing Act violations, an affirmative defense that has been recognized in state and federal court. When the eviction was granted by District Judge Vanessa Jones Bradley, Ms. Fluker filed an appeal as of right to Wayne County Circuit Court, and the case was reassigned to Judge Colombo.
Upon receiving the appeal, at a hearing before any briefs were filed, Judge Colombo expressed his anger that the client was still fighting for her home and at Ms. Fluker for pursuing the case on her behalf. He signaled his intention to sanction Ms. Fluker and the client for pursuing this appeal as of right.
True to his word, on February 18, 2011, Judge Colombo dismissed the appeal, and on March 1, 2011, he sanctioned Ms. Fluker and the client in the amount of $12,200 for a “vexatious proceeding”. This sanction came despite the fact that the client was diligently paying an escrow amount of $1200 monthly during the course of her eviction proceeding and the appeal. The escrow was awarded to the bank.
Judge Colombo received a mortgage and then two refinancing from RBS Services (two were through Charter Bank which is owned by RBS) between 2005-2009. The last one was received in June 2009, several months before he directed the bank to file a motion to dismiss the client’s initial circuit court case, cutting off negotiations for a loan modification that were progressing at that time. Judge Colombo’s dealings with the bank at least seem to create an “appearance of impropriety” for his actions in this case. A motion to disqualify Judge Colombo from future proceedings in this case has been filed.
Ms. Fluker is appealing this sanction award, but she is in need of funds to place an appeal bond of approximately $18,000 to stay proceedings pending this appeal as well as funds to pay for the appeal costs. Please send checks to Vanessa G.Fluker, Esq. PLLC/Appeal Fund c/o 2920 E. Jefferson, Ste. 101, Detroit, MI. 48207.Repost from Moratorium Now!